When he was younger, Holton Hill brought four medals home from a track meet in California.
Hill’s football coaches began calling him “Hollywood,” and the nickname has stuck. Teammate DeShon Elliott, though, was calling Hill something else following Texas’ 13-10 overtime loss to No. 10 Oklahoma State.
“Holton’s a first-round cornerback,” said Elliott, who praised the 6-3, 200-pound Hill’s instincts and length. “I don’t know if the NFL draft scouts have looked at him or seen him. I’ve known Holton for four years now, and he’s been the best cornerback I’ve played with all my life.”
OSU’s top-ranked passing offense was held to 282 yards. Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph threw it 38 times, but none of those passes were caught in the end zone. The Cowboys had one completion that went for more than 30 yards, and safety Brandon Jones slipped in coverage on that 66-yard connection.
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Leading the defensive charge was Hill, who was tasked with guarding explosive Cowboys receiver James Washington for part of the day. Hill had nine tackles, but drew a third-quarter penalty against Washington that defensive end Breckyn Hager insisted “was not a pass interference, I just want to say that.” With UT nursing a 10-7 lead in the fourth quarter, Hill also broke up a third-down pass in the end zone to Oklahoma State receiver Marcell Ateman.
“I basically took it as a challenge,” said Hill, whose team snapped Oklahoma State’s 36-game streak of scoring at least 20 points. “Going into this game, I knew that James Washington’s offense was a big threat. So I took it upon myself to work hard this past week and give it my all this weekend.
Hill made a splash earlier this season, scoring two defensive touchdowns over UT’s first two games. (He also returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown in the season opener). Opposing quarterbacks then began throwing less at Hill, which he noticed. Hill, however, joked on Tuesday that “I don’t want to say that and …”
Sure enough, Oklahoma State tested Hill early and Washington hauled in two first-quarter catches. Washington exited the quarter with three receptions, but he finished with only one more catch and 32 yards. Hill said he expected to shadow Washington on Saturday, but Oklahoma State’s top receiver was eventually confined to running his routes across the field.
Hill’s play drew rave reviews on social media. Longhorn Network analyst Emmanuel Acho tweeted that “cornerback Holton Hill is making him some $$$ today!!!” Former Texas and NFL defensive back Quentin Jammer tweeted “Holton Hill is a damn good football player! Been very impressed all year by him.” NFL draft writer Matt Miller gushed that Hill could be mistaken for a defensive back on the Seattle Seahawks.
After the game, Hill shared his spotlight with classmate Kris Boyd, the much-maligned cornerback who had 13 tackles and two pass breakups. The 282 yards were a season-low for Rudolph, whose worst game had been a 303-yard performance in a blowout win over Tulsa. Texas was ranked 108th nationally against the pass, but the secondary had also faced a gauntlet of NFL-ready quarterbacks in USC’s Sam Darnold (397 yards, three touchdowns, two interceptions) and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield (302 yards, two touchdowns, one interception).
“We just feel good that we’re doing our job and executing to our ability,” Hill said.
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